‘Land Grabbing’: The Ugandan Government, Madhvani, and Others Versus The Community of Lakang, Amuru District[1]

Ronald R. Atkinson

Walker Institute of International and Area Studies, University of South Carolina, USA

Arthur Owor

Programme for African Leadership, London School of Economics, UK



This study explores the conflict over Lakang land in westernmost Amuru District, northern Uganda, between the Ugandan Government, the Madhvani Amuru Sugar Works, and others versus the Lakang community. This conflict has been one of the most publicised – while also among the most atypical – of the vast number of land disputes marking the Acholi Sub-region over the past half-decade or so, as people have returned to the land following a twenty-year northern Uganda war (1986-2006) and up to a decade of forced displacement. 

Based on a close reading of the judicial argument in the February 2012 High Court Judgment concerning Lakang land, the study explores the evidence and argument for the legal decision that the land in question is not “customary” land. Turning then to the historical record, the article introduces documentary and oral evidence supporting Lakang as customary land, materialwhichfailed to reach the High Court. The study concludes with a brief note on developments since the 2012 Judgment and equally brief closing remarks. >> View Full Text (PDF)

[1] We would like to acknowledge and thank the organizers of the ‘Legal Pluralism and the Anthropology of Law’ Workshop, Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies, Gulu University, for inviting us to present the original iteration of this chapter (Atkinson & Owor 2013); the Makerere Institute of Social Research at Makerere University in Kampala and Human Rights Focus in Gulu for logistical and other support; and most of all the elders and many others in the Lakang community, and elsewhere, who shared their time, information, and perspectives.